This is a house record, and that shouldn't be surprising, what with the names Comatonse (the label of the mythical Terre Thaemlitz) and DJ Sprinkles (Terre in his dance beat disguise) on the sleeve and all. The odd one out here is Mark Fell, an active member of clicks’n’cuts project .snd. However, if you know that Fell recently started the series Sensate Focus on the Editions Mego sub-label of the same name - dedicated to a brand of minimal house, removed from his usual experimental practices - “The Complete Spiral EP” makes sense. It’s a house vinyl, highly nostalgic, produced by two veterans of experimental music who urgently needed to pay tribute to the music of their youth.
In the case of Sprinkles, the urgency wasn't all that big: not too long ago, he released “Midtown 120 Blues” (Mule Musiq, 2009), chosen by Resident Advisor as the best of 2009, and rightly so, in hindsight. Furthermore, to be honest, it wasn't even that urgent for Fell, either - because of the brutal emergence of Sensate Focus, of which the second EP will be out in June. But sometimes you just have to strike the iron when it's hot, and the opportunity to work together on a few tracks was just too tempting. On “The Complete Spiral EP” there's only house, done the old school way (late 80s, early 90s, New York style), albeit digitally clean, like a re-mastered piece from back in the day. There are two cuts: “Say It Slowly” (which includes a speech by Arthur Scargill, the former leader of the British National Union of Mineworkers, in the “N.U.M. Mix”; Thaemlitz has always used anti-capitalist messages in his music), and it's instrumental reprise, the “Hee-Haw Mix”, which sounds like a Masters At Work dub from 1992. The second track, on the B-side, is “Complete Spiral”.
“Complete Spiral” is actually the epicentre of this 12”: clocking in at almost 13 minutes, with Caribbean embellishments and floating vocals (reminiscent of early 90s The Orb), and incorporating Thaemlitz' primitive ambient, Mark Fell's segmentation of the sound in small information packages, and Sprinkles' misty 4x4. It is, in conclusion, an old school tribute (and a new school update) to today's deep-house. However, it avoids the clichés of the German school, and is far from the inflated sounds of the post-dubstep meets prog producers of the English circuit: it sounds like it's from the past, but timeless, agitating, seductive, and highly collectible. Fingers crossed for a Sprinkles and Fell full-length!